Jessie Bernard Award - returning thanks


Remarks at the American Sociological Association awards ceremony, on receiving the 2017 Jessie Bernard Award for “scholarship that has enlarged the horizons of sociology to encompass the role of women in society”.
I thank you all, and I thank the Association, for your kindness in making this award.  I appreciate the ASA’s commitment to principle, in a time when foreigners from remote places are often suspect, and transsexual women are among the targets in new campaigns of bigotry.
Science is now under threat from post-truth media, corporate greed and authoritarian politics.  Social science is not exempt.  Our critical edge and capacity to document social reality are heartily unwelcome to the powerful and privileged.
Yet a time of trouble is also a time of renewal. Jessie Bernard, for whom this award is named, was one of the pioneers in a feminist insurrection in the 1960s and 1970s that transformed sociology.  As the joke goes, if you can remember the ‘sixties, you weren’t there.  But a lot of strong women were there, and the gender research they launched has grown in sophistication, and increasingly links global North with global South.
Making knowledge is a collective project.  My research on gender depended ultimately on thousands of fellow-workers and students.  Good understanding of society really matters for democratic projects, so it’s vital to sustain that creative workforce. But conditions have changed, and the new generation faces a harder task than my generation did.  I wish you well.
Sociologists, go forth!  You have nothing to lose but your Founding Fathers.  You have a wide world to know.
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